Even in scenarios where the conversation revolves around intangible needs such as love, trust or honesty, and where it would appear that there could not possibly be any negative consequences to the rest of the world when we narrow our gaze towards our internalized personal realities and how those personal realities interface with those of others, could it be that in these modernized times, we have come to place too much attention on our respective internal landscapes to the detriment of the outer landscape? Could it be that we place too much emphasis on our personal truths, defending them as irrefutable, and not enough emphasis on what is concretely around us? Could it be that a good many of our depressions, anxieties, neuroses and alienating behaviours are a symptom of, among other factors, an increasingly self-centric view of life trying unsuccessfully to find its way though the concrete overgrowth of civilization to some semblance of sound, balanced and meaningful community life?
How has my enculturation compromised my understanding of needs? How has my enculturation compromised my understanding of what it means to serve and enrich life?
All too often we use the term “life-serving” and “life-enriching” to describe desires and outcomes what would work for us personally. Our lens is pretty self-centric. And when it extends to others, we perceive it as an improvement but it still remains human-centric. I think it’s important for us to ask ourselves how is this thing that I’m wanting ultimately life-enriching? If my answer goes only as far as satisfying my own needs or the needs of my fellow humans without considering what life needs in order to keep our human enterprise afloat, then I’m deluded into believing that my own personal well-being both determines and supports the well-being of what sustains me, when in fact it is the health of the earth and the health of human culture that sustain me
Leonard Cohen summed it up well when he said, “What is the appropriate behaviour for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?” Our relationships do not unfold in isolation of the socio-cultural and environmental landscapes to which we belong. They are deeply informed by them and they are either nurtured or starved by them. It’s important to know this as we attempt to address our personal or social woes when connecting to needs. And it’s equally important to remember we humans are not at the centre; life is at the centre.
Some notes from the following article on world-class communication ideas:
In his experience, such problems often get out of hand when we apply too much pressure at precisely the wrong time. Think of a car going uphill: the more you upshift, the more the road resists you, you lose hold, the car slows down and sputters.“But downshift”, says Dr. Goulston, “and you get control. It’s like pulling the road to meet you.”
In short, we upshift. And the other person responds with even more resistance, lashing out, becoming defensive, shutting us out.
When you shift your focus down to the root cause, to the raw emotion, you create traction that pulls the other person towards you. And that’s when you can get through to them.
There’s the outer layer — the neocortex, which we usually think of as our brain. It’s the most recent, most evolved part that controls our higher-order functions, all that intellectual brilliance and impeccable manners we like to show to the world. But there are two other, much older parts wrapped around each other below the neocortex: the reptilian, or lizard brain which triggers our survival instincts and fear responses; and the mammalian brain, our emotional center, the seat of all feelings and moods, and also memory.
This means that if you are talking to someone and this person is in the grip of a powerful emotion, they literally cannot process your message. They are not thinking, they are acting on raw emotion and base impulses.
The key, counterintuitively, is show that you empathize by acknowledging their negative emotions.
Empathy doesn’t mean that you approve of their behavior. It only means that you can put yourself in their shoes and understand where their anger or fear or frustration is coming from. Then you mirror it back to them so they feel “felt”.
For example, you can follow up with: And I’ll bet you’re hesitant to tell me straight out that you can’t get it done, isn’t that also true?